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Former winner Imperial Call headed 16 withdrawals revealed today for the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 11-year-old, who gave Ireland its first win in the race for 10 years when successful in 1996, has suffered training problems this term and been restricted to just one outing.

Others withdrawn at Tuesday's forfeit stage included last year's sixth Simply Dashing and the Venetia Williams-trained Pain Royal, who has been quoted at just 25-1 for the race by Ladbrokes.

A field of 28 remain for the March 16th contest, four more than are left in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle two days earlier.

Most notable omission from the Champion was Irish star Limestone Lad, who is being aimed instead at the Bonusprint Stayers' Hurdle for which 25 horses have stood their ground.

Publication of acceptances for Cheltenham's other championship races shows that Paul Nicholls' hot favourite Flagship Uberalles will face a maximum of 14 rivals in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

They include his stable-companion and last year's winner Call Equiname plus leading Irish Independent Arkle Chase hope Decoupage.

Mark Pitman has left ante-post market leader Monsignor in just the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle but Irish rival Youlneverwalkalone retains an alternative option in the Capel Cure Sharp Novices' Hurdle.

The next declarations for each of the nine championship races at the Festival will be made at the five-day stage.